Flu shot? Yep; COVID Shot? Well, Maybe

The Good Life

What will we do if and when a COVID vaccine becomes available?

I do not know whether I will accept such a vaccine. But a brush with pseudo-influenza last month was a sobering reminder that flu and COVID are both killers.

I did not actually “have the flu” last month.

I did have a reaction to this year’s high dose flu shot. The double dose is recommended for geezers. I am a geezer, so I got it.

Then I got “sick.” The quotation marks are appropriate. Though I am among the world’s loudest hypochondriacs and sympathy seekers, I did not get for-real sick.

I have had full-blown influenza. Yuck, and then some.

One episode flattened me for two full weeks, left me 20 pounds lighter and probably caused the pneumonia that calcified a lobe of my left lung, to this day restricting my breathing.

“I think I’m gonna die!” is my go-to moan whenever I do get sick, which is infrequently these days thanks to my wife’s emphasis on healthy foods, mysteriously healthy tinctures and elixirs, and denying to prepare nearly everything I used to call food.

I do not die. I just sound my sympathy-craving klaxon, and then mope around until I recover.

When I am sick for real, I shut up, go to bed and sweat out whatever is inside me.

This year, I got the flu shot on a Thursday. Friday was uneventful.

Saturday morning, while folding laundry, I felt a tad unsteady on my feet. Woozy, too.

Then 10 minutes later, I sat down abruptly, not because I wanted to, but because I had to.

Welcome to “pseudo-flu.” I was weak. I was dizzy. My shoulders ached. The back of my head throbbed. The front of my head throbbed

Out came the familiar moan: “I think I’m gonna die!”

That gets me no sympathy, but I continue to crave it. My wife says she is a health counselor, not a sick-person nurse.

We have another cliche in my family, a response to my mournful plea for pity: “If you want sympathy, go and look in the dictionary. There it is, right between ‘sh*t’ and ‘syphilis.’ “

Crude. My family is crude.

So on Saturday afternoon, I went to bed. I did not move, except to drink a lot of water and excrete its leftovers.

Sunday, I felt about 90 percent of normal.

But the aches and pains were a sobering reminder of just how awful the old, familiar disease of influenza is. Victims of the new COVID coronavirus say that, in most cases, it is just a small annoyance — but if it gets serious, you get sicker than you have ever been in your life.

In past years, I have taken the vaccination shot to protect against influenza because I know from experience that I do not want it. I have spent two full weeks bedridden from influenza, developed pneumonia because of it and, were it not for antibiotics, I would have died — and that was 40 years ago.

That flu bug flattened me within minutes. In those days, I walked to work from our house a mile away, across the midtown bridge that spans the Allegheny River in Warren.

When I left the newspaper office to go home, I felt fine.

Halfway home, just across that bridge, I sat/fell down. Sweats. Aching, pounding head. Blurred vision. Stomach erupting. Intestines similar. A Good Samaritan neighbor stopped and gave me a ride the rest of the way home.

The next two weeks were a bedridden blur.

No, thank you.

From what I have heard, most cases of COVID are nowhere near that bad — but a few are even worse.

I have no illusions about my survivability odds if doctors need to shove a ventilator down my throat. One of my sons was on a ventilator a few years ago due to an autoimmune disease. He survived and recovered — somewhat. He was 30 years younger than I am now.

I suppose I should say that I will take a safe and effective COVID vaccination, if and when that becomes available, to help slow the spread of the disease to other people.

But I will make my final decision in terms of what seems to be best for me, not for other people — or what will be least bad for me. Selfish? Yep. Acceptably so? I think so.

I take flu shots and their associated risks because to me they are less bad than another awful bout of influenza.


I have not yet decided about a COVID vaccination, but for the sake of my own health and for your health, I need to think about it.

So do you.

¯ ¯ ¯

Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: denny2319@windstream.net.


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